|An example of a fancy hat|
The sanctuary is dressed out in red paraments. People wear red to church. Some churches set their fonts on fire or wave long streamy banners, or wear fancy hats.
And so on.
This is all fine and good. But it does leave us all wondering what Pentecost is supposed to be other than a liturgical holiday.
My answer: Pentecost is about LIFE.
Of course in one sense Pentecost is the celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit on the community fifty days after Easter.
But the coming of the Spirit signifies something, and the thing signified is life, life in its fulness.
Take the "hearing, each of us, in our own native language" piece (Acts 2:8). The disciples proclaim, and the various tribes and races all hear the gospel in their own language, in a moment not of glossalalia but rather xenolalia.
This moment is about getting the message out to all peoples. It's also an example of crossing a "beautiful wall," as some describe what language barriers are and how we cross them. Languages are beautiful things, and when we learn each other's languages we enter other worlds of humanity.
Life is expanded. When you learn or speak another language, the horizon of your own life is expanded outward into the thought-world of others.
This is what the Spirit is up to. The Spirit adds life to life. The Spirit extends the life of Christ into the life of the apostolic community. The Spirit extends the life of the Father into the life of the Son. The Spirit is the one that connects all this life together in God and between God and humanity and the world. The Spirit even extends life into the future, through promise.
The Spirit sustains and holds together all that exists. The church confesses that without the Spirit, all of creation would collapse, fall into nothingness, end. The reason why moment from moment there are planets, stars, galaxies, trees, humanity, animals, air, matter, is because the Spirit continually sustains and holds all of it together.
So the message of Pentecost is a message of renewed life in its fullness. A community that had been lost, searching, exiled and in diaspora, now finds its home precisely in diaspora as the community that goes out into and seeds the whole world with the message of Christ in the power of the Spirit.
That is Pentecost.
Job 33.4 The spirit of God has made me,
and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
John 6.63 It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
Rom. 8.2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
Rom. 8.6 To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
2Cor. 3.6 who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Gal. 6.8 If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit.
Rev. 22.17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”
And let everyone who hears say, “Come.”
And let everyone who is thirsty come.
Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.